Used Seat Leon Hatchback 2000 - 2005 review

Category: Family car

Better than Golf it's based on, the Seat Leon is a fine alternative to mainstream small family cars

Seat Leon Hatchback (00 - 05)
  • Seat Leon Hatchback (00 - 05)
  • Seat Leon Hatchback (00 - 05)
Used Seat Leon Hatchback 2000 - 2005 review
Star rating

What's the used Seat Leon hatchback like?

Think of everything that's good about the Volkswagen Golf, then imagine a car which has the same strengths, but looks better, drives more sharply and costs less. That's the Seat Leon.

Probably the first thing to strike you about the car is its styling, something delightfully different from the average mainstream small family car.


Better than Golf it's based on, the Seat Leon is a fine alternative to mainstream small family cars

  • It's cheaper, better looking and better to drive than the Volkswagen Golf it's based on
  • Rear accommodation is cramped and the low-speed ride is on the firm side

The drive, too, is a little sharper than its rivals', even on the most basic models. By the time you get to the hot Cupra models, the Leon is a cracking hot hatch, with great handling, and lots of power and performance for the money.

Inside, it's not quite as smart as a Golf, but it's all well laid out and solidly built. Up front, it's spacious, too, but the rear is not so good, with head- and legroom more cramped than in the Ford Focus. The boot, likewise, is smaller than the Focus's.

Ownership cost

What used Seat Leon hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Seat Leon hatchback?

The Leon may be cheaper than the Golf it's based on, but compared to the real big-sellers in the class, the Vauxhall Astra and Focus, it's still expensive.

There's no great surprise the Leon is very similar to the Golf in fuel economy, because they share many engines. Likewise, against other mainstream rivals, there are only slight differences. Petrol Focuses are a little better than petrol Leons, but the opposite is true for the diesels.

Repair costs for the Leon match those for the Astra, Golf and Renault Megane, but are some way behind those for the Focus.

Our recommendations

Which used Seat Leon hatchback should I buy?

The Cupras make excellent hot hatches, but the best buys are lower down the range. In particular, the 1.4 and 1.6 S are absolute bargains, and neither suffers from any lack of power. However, given it's only a few hundred pounds more, we'd go for the stronger 1.6. This model also always had standard air-con, but the 1.4 only had it from August 2002.

There isn't a bad engine in the range. The various 1.9 diesels are punchy and frugal, while the turbocharged petrols in the Sport and Cupra models give very strong performance.

Choosing a trim is an easy job because, for the most part, each engine had just one choice. Again, there's no point venturing above the basic S. This has pretty much all you could need, although you could try SE for electric rear windows and climate control, while Sport has leather trim and a CD multichanger.

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What alternatives should I consider to a used Seat Leon hatchback?